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Kombucha label

-- Final design posted at the bottom (May 27) --

1. Picking a product and brand // concept mood board (May 17)

I'm creating labels for 16oz bottles that contain the kombucha I recently started brewing at home. I had intended on making a label at some point for fun anyway, and it seemed like a good project for this class. I make the kombucha mostly for myself and friends and so it isn't really a product for sale, but I've been keeping in mind the idea of what if it was for sale and how it would sit with similar products on the shelf, etc.

First I looked at labels of different kombucha brands that you can buy in stores:

I think it would be fun to move kombucha branding away from an earthy/hippie/soft feel, and more toward the graphic styling of pop labels. It isn't realistic in terms of store brands (which are cost-prohibitive), but I like the idea of kombucha being an "everyday drink" (like pop is for some) -- for me it's a weirder-tasting (and healthier) alternative to pop, and its cost + my desire for it is what pushed me to start making it myself. I looked at vintage and modern pop labels, graphic/pop art, and I also felt inspired by the treatment of products within the Ren & Stimpy show (Log, Powdered Toast Man). Here's my mood board:

In stores kombucha seems to be shelved with bottled teas and "alternative" pops, like these:

Many of these labels take advantage of 4 color process, use many colors and gradients, use photorealistic imagery, etc. I think I would use screen printing to create my labels, which for one would be very doable for me to DIY, and for two I think would be a very appropriate production method to the mood/feel that I would like to create with the label. I would like to experiment with the vinyl (white or clear?) to see about having a wipe-away section of the label, where I could write in that bottle's flavor and the bottled date, so the labels/bottles can be reused to some extent. (I get about 6 bottles per 1 gallon brew. Each 1 gallon brew has a 2 week brewing time.)

I will probably also use a drawing of my dog Miguel in some way, as I've been having fun drawing him a lot lately, and he's sort of a mascot for our apartment (where the kombucha is brewed):

So, next up: label concept sketching.

2. Getting the sketch down (May 21)

This is my favorite direction so far:

I am thinking a 2 color screen print on white or clear vinyl -- not sure on that yet. The ribbon/strip across the OOs is a space for me to scribble the flavor and brew date with a grease pencil, which can be wiped off, since I want to reuse the labels/bottles. The area in the left part of the ribbon/strip is for checking off what kind of tea I used in the batch (black, green, other). The "made by" info might go underneath the explosion.

While sketching and thinking about the wipeway area, I thought it would also be fun to print an accompanying little notebook -- like a Scout Book -- to keep notes on the batches, which tea + fruit combos worked well, secondary fermentation times that produce the most bubbles, things to try in the future, etc., since the info is lost once it is wiped away.

Other sketches:

I will continue to sketch this week.

2. Getting the sketch down (May 24)

More developed sketch:

I think I will be printing on white vinyl. I decided to let go of the explosive border -- it was too distracting, I think. Instead I used the explosions around CHA CHA and in the design for the cap sticker (which will cover the manufacturer's "sell by" stamp). The heart at the top of the label is a nod to many store-bought kombucha labels, which seem to have a little point or crown at its top, and also my dog Miguel's collar, which has hearts on it. I simplified the "bottle date/fermentation time" info on the ribbon to just "batch number," which refers to the accompanying notebook I mentioned above. What is most important to know when the kombucha is sitting in the fridge is the flavor, as I am beginning to brew batches simulataneously and may have multiple flavors at one time. If I think a bottle is particularly tasty, I can refer to the notebook by batch number to see the fermentation time and little details like that.

From here I will work with the design digitally to start working in some color and to produce the final mockup.

3. Finalizing the design (May 27)

Final design -- label and cap, 2 color screen print with overprinting, on white vinyl:

With more time I would probably play around with the colors more. Cyan would print first, and then magenta on top. There might be some trickiness with lining up edges with the overprinting, which is why I'm not sure I'd print these myself -- I might have them done at a shop. But maybe I'd try myself first. And since I only have about 14 bottles, I can hand-cut them without a problem, but if something like this was in production as screen printed vinyl they'd need a custom die cut, which would be something to think about in terms of cost.

Here's a potential 2-color cover design for the accompanying Scout Book-type book I mentioned above, for keeping track of batch-by-batch brew times and flavors, etc:

And here's the inked sketch that I brought into the computer to work in the color:

I printed out the label and cap designs on my mediocre home printer and taped them to a bottle to get a feel for what they'd be like in reality, and wrote on the wipe-away write-on area (which notes the bottle's  flavor):

Thanks for reading -- I had a lot of fun with this!

- Melissa

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